Crockett rips Lady Rangers

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR CORRESPONDENT
mbirchfield@starhq.com

   The battle for the frontier between the Lady Rangers and Lady Pioneers took place on Thursday at Ronnie Hicks field, as David Crockett won the shootout in a 7-1 final.
   A third inning flurry from the Pioneers carried them onto victory, with neither team wanting to surrender, and both clubs making very few mistakes.
   "I was more pleased than when we faced them in the second game of the season, for it was 9-0 by the fifth inning in that game, but they just hit the ball better then we did today," said Lady Ranger coach Ronnie Hicks.
   David Crockett came out to receive a lead-off hit from Annette Henley to start the contest.
   A nice charge from toward the plate from Tara Bishop off a bunt by Courtney Briggs produced the first out of the game.
   The Ranger defense followed with a fly-out catch from Kelly Allen, and a throw to first-base caught Henley off the bag to convert the double-play.
   Unaka didn't have any success in capturing a hit through the first four frames, as Pioneer pitcher Angie Hensley struck out seven of the first 12 batters she faced with nine total for the contest.
   "She has done an outstanding job all year long, and her ERA is probably less than one, and she didn't give up any earned runs today," said Crockett coach Mike Moore.
   The top of the third did not go well for the Lady Rangers, for the Pioneers were able to cash-in on five runs off of five hits.
   "The bats started finally breaking through and the girls put it in play, and we've been hitting the ball right at people, so now the girls are beginning to hit the ball the way it is supposed to be hit," said Moore.
   An infield hit by Hensley drove in the first run with Heather Bryant coming home.
   Two more runs crossed the plate, when Briggs smacked a double down the leftfield line to score pinch runner Leslie Nichels and Ashley Harrison.
   A shot to center-field from Ashley Mashburn drove-in Briggs, and a sacrifice-fly by Mallory Southerland brought home Heather Waycaster to give the Pioneers a 5-0 lead.
   Unaka's defense stiffened from that point, as Crockett went three and out through the next three frames.
   "I wasn't pleased with how we played the first three innings, but was happy on how we held our head up and continued to battle back with them getting some chances," said Hicks.
   Even though the Rangers struggled with allowing hits in the third, they still had a solid pitching performance from Danielle Williams, who didn't commit any walks throughout the seven innings of play.
   "They got some hits on me, but the defense still did a good job of backing me up, but it was better than what we played the first time, for we're improving coming toward tournament time," said Williams.
   Hensley finally gave up her first hit in the fifth frame, when Kelly Allen made contact with the ball, which took a big hop on the short-stop's attempt to field.
   "I thought we played defense well, for we have had trouble with catching and fielding the ball like we should, but we were determined to win coming up here, and we hit the ball good," said Hensley.
   The Rangers were able to get on the board in the sixth frame, after Emily Elliott got things started with a double down the right-field line.
   A fielder's choice from Jessica Moffitt, and a bunt by Kristen Moffitt loaded the bases for the Rangers.
   A ground-hit to the pitcher from Megan Heaton enabled the force out at home, but a throw to first-base on an attempt for a double-play allowed Jessica Moffitt to slide in for the score.
   "We had an error in the third inning which kind of cost us a little, but she was hustling and it was a tough catch, and then I cost us a run by sending a runner home, for I though she could make it," said Hicks.
   Crockett added two more runs in the last frame with the first one coming off a double from Henley driving-in Nickels, and a ground-out by Briggs which enabled Harrison to cross the plate.
   "After we saw we wasn't going to be high up in the District rankings, I told all of these girls that the games now are all tune-ups, and what we need to focus is gradually get better, and I feel we've done that," said Moore.